POWER OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND POTENTIAL CONFLICTS IN GLOBALIZED WORLD
POWER OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND POTENTIAL
CONFLICTS IN GLOBALIZED WORLD
Dr. Prashant Mehta
Assistant Professor, National Law University, Jodhpur
In today’s globalized economic world shared challenges can bring out the best in
people, at the same time over dependence on each other can also do the opposite
with more devastating effect. Global climate change is one such typical shared
challenge for humanity and its existence, and although the climate change threat has
inspired a substantial amount of international co-operation, efforts to moderate it at
recent Copenhagen Climate Summit 2009 have already proven divisive among the
developed nations and rest of the world.
Addressing an issue which directly affects each one of us we are yet to unite. Since
the 1980s, a growing body of multidisciplinary research has dealt with the relationship
between environmental stress (environmental degradation and resource scarcity),
impact on nations and resulting conflicts. Bad news continues to emerge form
scientific models and empirical observations. Latest research evidence suggests that
unprecedented levels green house gases build up; its mounting adverse effects can
pose an irreversible threat to mankind is none other than rising global temperatures
and its fatal consequences.
More specifically, the world's biggest carbon polluters (developed and fast developing
countries) the issue of global warming is assuming a level of breaching threshold of
sustainability, where number of other integrated socio-economic factors, regional
interest factors, driver of hunger, social unrest etc will contribute to increased
chances of conflicts across the globe. The world is facing these new developments as
catastrophic to human civilization and its existence.
The scenario may become more threatening in few years from now when countries
like India and China which today are aspiring to become of great economic powers of
tomorrow. Doing so these countries will have to maintain a fine balance between fast
economic growth and their responsibilities toward climate change. Fairness demands
that all nations participate in the common effort to contain build up of green house
gases, even if the developed countries must accept more stringent constraints than
the developing countries.
As such answering two critical questions have become imperative for each of us
individually or collectively. They are: Whether climate change impacts are likely to
increase conflict potentials across the globe? Secondly in what way these findings
affect the international progress on the processes, international negotiations, and
finding linkages between climate change and chances of conflict.
Climate change as of today is already having a considerable impact and emerging as
major challenges on food security, water scarcity, rivalry for farmland and fishing
resources. The available scientific evidence on the linkages between climate change,
high degree of environmental stress, and conflict focuses on many issues that
contribute to both long term environmental degradation (e.g. of soil and water) and
scarcity (e.g. of fresh potable water and food).
Taking these specific global and national conditions into account, the environmental
stress may lead to several disturbing outcomes like wide spread international tensions
and regional instability besides highlighting issues like a) distress and mass scale
migration like African example of Darfur, were we see this explosive mixture from the
impact of climate change, which prompts immigration by increasingly impoverished
people, which then has consequences in war., b) impending natural hazards,
calamities, and disaster, c) domestic instability and resulting crises, and d) internal
security or wide scale international conflicts.
Among these structural factors of Global Environmental Change, we can make a clear
distinction between primarily nature-induced factors that are reinforced by
anthropogenic consumption patterns (climate change, water scarcity and soil erosion)
and human activity-induced factors (unprecedented population growth, rapid
urbanization, food scarcity and security). If we keep going down this path, and disturb
the delicate balance of Mother Nature, than the resulting consequences of climate
change will encourage the migration of people from areas of scarcity towards areas
where the population do have something for sustainability, the Darfur crisis will be
only one crisis among dozens of others scattered all across the globe.
The global climate change and its conflict dimension will result in loss of life, social
divisions, and reduction of economic activity, economic instability and reduced
international trade. Special emphasis should be put on how climate change might
exacerbate environmental stresses. Climate change may also have security
consequences in areas where there is large influx of refugee, health, disaster relief,
food, water, sanitation and resettlement.
Large scale mitigation and adaptation measures on environmental stress can act as
effective tools for conflict prevention or conflict reduction. In order to implement
both above mentioned measures for effective results the objective of stabilizing
atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous
anthropogenic interference with the climate system and natural climate cycles has to
be strictly adhered to in lines with Kyoto protocol and subsequent discussions
Climate change impacts will not be the single or main causes of future conflicts or
crises, nevertheless, in combination with other factors climate change impacts are
likely to contribute to magnified environmental stress and thus could become a
potential cause of future conflicts. In order to take appropriate policy measures,
comprehensive assessment procedures are needed. Today is the best time to look into
this problem from multidimensional perspectives otherwise tomorrow will be too late.
Conclusion: Today is the right time to look into this problem or tomorrow will be too
late for the sustenance of civilized society.